SEOUL, South Korea -- Prime Minister Narendra Modi, addressing the Indian community in Seoul, said on Monday that the world's perception of India has changed since his government took over a year ago and that "humanity" lay at the centre of the country's foreign policy.
Addressing a cheering 1,500-strong Indian community here, Modi said a key component of his government's foreign policy is the Act East Policy. "Earlier, it was Look East Policy... We have seen that for a long time," he said in a swipe at the previous UPA government, amid chants of "Modi, Modi".
He also said that the "I" or India among the BRICS bloc of countries had begun to "teeter and stumble" but after his government came to power, India is moving fast on the growth path.
"Economists had changed their tune and began saying that BRICS is stumbling and falling. They said that BRICS was losing its importance because it has begun teetering."
"But in the past year things have changed and the world feels that without 'I' BRICS will not be possible," he said to cheering crowd.
Wonderful being in Seoul. My gratitude to the Indian community here for the very warm welcome. pic.twitter.com/zcg5QHzFpV— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 18, 2015
Modi said all the international rating agencies like Moody's and the World Bank have in the past two months "in one voice" said that India is the world's fastest moving economy.
"Earlier, we would wonder if India would figure in Asian century story. But now the way India has risen they feel that the 21st century will definitely be the Asian century."
He said that "manavta" or humanity was at the centre of his government's foreign policy, which was visible in the way India helped in Nepal in the aftermath of the earthquake, helped bring drinking water to Maldives when its drinking water plant was damaged, and also saw passage of a constitution amendment bill to implement the Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh.
He said his government successfully evacuated over 4,000 Indians from war-ravaged Yemen bombings and firings. "We requested (Saudi authorities) to stop the bombing for two hours and brought back our people as well as 48 foreign nationals. Even America told its people to contact us to evacuate them from Yemen," he said to loud applause.
"In Yemen, we evacuated Pakistanis too. They too saved Indians and arranged for a special plane to bring them back. The point here is manavta (humanity)."
He said earlier foreign policy was dictated by trade and commerce and big sounding words.
"We have chosen a new path, of humanity, and to keep manavta as the kendrabindu (centrepoint) of our foreign policy."
He said the concept of SAARC is getting a new impetus on the basis of humanity, which is helping bring countries together.
He said the Sri Lankan government desisted in carrying out the death sentence on five Indian fishermen on the basis of humanity.
He mentioned the release of Indian aid worker Father Alexis Premkumar Antonysamy in Afghanistan, more than eight months after he was kidnapped by the Taliban. He said the land swap with Bangladesh had not taken place ever since the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement was inked due to doubts and misunderstandings. But his government "resolved it in one year". Modi thanked all political parties for the passage of the bill in parliament.
Modi said India helped Nepal during the quake and that Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala "said publicly that he learnt of the quake from Modi's twitter (post)".
He said India ran to wipe the tears after the Nepal quake and will stand shoulder to shoulder with its neighbour.
Earlier, Modi arrived from Ulan Bator in Mongolia on the third and final leg of his three-nation tour. He was in China earlier.
He lay a wreath at the Seoul National Cemetery. His address to the Indian community was the second event in Seoul.